Computational engineering refers to the design, development and application of computational systems for solving physical problems encountered during the study of science and engineering. These computational systems are used to obtain solutions of mathematical models that represent some physical process through the use of algorithms, software and other methods. Computational engineering is also known as computational science.
Computational engineering has emerged as a fast growing multidisciplinary area with connections to engineering, mathematics, computer science as well as other sciences. Computational engineering is bound to play an important role in the bringing up of new inventions and discoveries.
Need for computational engineering
Computation is today regarded as an important tool needed for the advancement of scientific knowledge and engineering practice, in addition to the already existing tools of theoretical analysis and physical experimentation. Simulation techniques allow scientists to easily study complex natural phenomena and processes, which would otherwise be very difficult, dangerous or even impossible. The need for greater accuracy and detail in such simulations has created the need for faster and more efficient computer algorithms and architectures. It is because of these advancements that scientists and engineers can solve highly complex problems that were once though to be unsolvable.
Scope of computational engineering
There is hardly any area of engineering or science that does not use computers for modeling. Some examples of the usage of computers for modeling are:
- Calculation of trajectories for satellites and space probes.
- Simulation of air pressure and resistance in a flying aircraft.
- Verification of the structural integrity of vehicles, buildings, dams, etc.
- Designing computer circuits and VLSI layouts for building new computers.
- Simulation, design and control of nuclear weapons.
- Simulation of combustion systems.
- Weather forecasting.
Computational engineering as an emerging discipline
In many universities, computational engineering is now being offered as a new discipline of engineering in the form of a masters or doctorate program. This has occurred as a result of the increased demand for scientists and engineers to have a better understanding of the skills necessary to create new technologies and improve upon existing ones.
Such programs come with curricula covering a large range of subjects, so that they can produce scientists and engineers with broad backgrounds and viewpoints. These scientists and engineers can then be expected to understand the basic approaches to solving analytical problems, as also using mathematical and computational tools required to arrive at solutions.